Steve Cohen took the unusual step of opening Monday’s Citi Field news conference to introduce David Stearns by explaining the timeline of the firing of Buck Showalter.
It was the second cleanup-on-aisle-5 moment in two days for the Mets’ owner, who did an impromptu news conference on Sunday hours after Showalter announced his own firing in an awkward scene before the Mets’ season finale.
“I just want to make clear that I kind of orchestrated all of this,” Cohen said on Monday, speaking of the timing of the announcement and not the decision to fire Showalter with one year left on his contract. “I wanted to handle Buck the way he wanted it to go down and then obviously, David on Monday, and then you have the MLB playoffs coming up, and so the window of opportunity to do this was kind of short. So that’s how we did it. And obviously appreciate all that Buck did for the organization, for me.”
Cohen then introduced Stearns, the Mets’ new president of baseball operations.
Stearns, who said it was his decision to move on from Showalter, said he was forbidden to contact any Mets employee until the season ended because he still was under contract with the Brewers. Stearns said he reached out to Showalter on Monday (without success).
“I’m hopeful that we’re going to be able to connect,” he said.
Stearns said he wanted to start fresh with a new manager and insisted he doesn't have any particular candidates in mind. “We’re going to cast a wide net,” he said. “We’re going to have a real process. We’re going to, at some point, interview candidates of varying backgrounds and I would imagine interview candidates who have both been major-league managers before and those who have not. So the point here is finding the right person who we believe will grow with the organization and hopefully be here for a long time.”
The first name that comes to mind is Brewers manager Craig Counsell, who has Milwaukee in the playoffs and will be a free agent at season’s end.
“I’m certainly not going to comment on any specific potential candidates, certainly not one who’s under contract with another organization and managing in the postseason,” Stearns said with a wide smile.
“I think people, even experienced people, have growth remaining. And so I don’t think having been a major-league manager is a disqualifier.”
Stearns said he doesn’t have a timetable to hire a manager. If he wants to interview Counsell, he'll have to wait until the Brewers’ season is over. While he insisted he doesn’t know who he wants, he said he does know what he wants.
“I view the managerial positions as one of a true partnership,” Stearns said. “Someone who’s working side by side with leading our baseball ops group. The manager has so many responsibilities these days that it’s a big job. But first and foremost is the ability to manage people, manage personalities and create and facilitate an organizational culture where people enjoy coming to work and work hard. So that’s at the top of my list.”